MSc in International Relations (1982)
Gregory Aftandilian received his MSc in IR from LSE in 1982. He is now Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Center for National Policy in Washington.
My year as an M.Sc. student in the International Relations Department of the LSE was one of the best experiences of my life. The Department had top tier faculty members who opened our minds and provoked stimulating discussions. In addition, because the LSE attracted students from all over the world, studying international relations in this environment was another wonderful opportunity, because as an American I could interact with people from different societies and cultures in the classroom and get their perspectives on issues. And there were some very memorable moments, like the time when we went on a retreat to Windsor to discuss British foreign policy, which just happened to coincide with the height of the Falkands War.
Socially, our group of M.Sc. students interacted very well with each other and with the faculty and administrators of the department. I had the honour and privilege to be the Party Committee Chairman, and I am not referring here to politics. Once a month we would collect one quid from every student, enough at that time (believe it or not) to buy a keg of beer and some cheese and crackers, and throw a party in the International Relations common room. We were often referred to as the “wild” group, and the parties were such a success that the faculty members were often the last to leave these social events. I still keep in touch with many of my former classmates and “party comrades.”
Although I returned to the U.S. at the height of a recession, I was able to land my first government job in Washington about a year after receiving my degree from the LSE. I started working as a Middle East analyst at the Library of Congress. From there, I went to work as Middle East analyst at the Pentagon and at the State Department, from which I received the Superior Honor Award for my analytical work on Egypt. I then went to work on Capitol Hill for the late Senator Ted Kennedy and for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I took an early retirement from the government and have since since been involved in consulting, think tank, academic work. I am currently a Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Center for National Policy in Washington, an adjunct professor in the International Relations Department at Boston University, and an Associate of the Middle East Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. My academic experiences at the LSE prepared me well for a career in government, as I developed strong analytical skills there. Moreover, having a graduate degree from the LSE opened doors for me in a very competitive environment. I will always have fond memories of my student days in the IR Department of the LSE and the opportunities that experience gave me.